Spring on the Greenbelt

Lifestyle

Spring is arguably my favorite time of the year in Austin. The weather is phenomenal, the vegetation lush, and the city’s energy is vibrant and alive.

Barton Creek Greenbelt :: Spring 2015

Barton Creek Greenbelt :: Spring 2015

Last Saturday I made a solo trip to the Barton Creek Greenbelt via the Twin Falls trail head. Fully prepared for my adventure with plenty of water, my camera, a journal and some good tunes, my blissful day began.

Barton Creek Greenbelt :: Spring 2015

Barton Creek Greenbelt :: Spring 2015

I arrived at 10:30 AM with no real intention set for the day other than to soak up some sun and to reconnect with nature. The real estate market is in full swing right now, so I am constantly on the go. This was the first Saturday I’d had to myself in quite a while, and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend it– hiking, photographing, journaling, people-watching and soaking up every ounce of energy and light possible.

Barton Creek Greenbelt :: Spring 2015

Barton Creek Greenbelt :: Spring 2015

As the day went on and my phone eventually died, I completely lost track of time, and for once, I was completely ok with that. Eight miles, hundreds of photos, twenty pages in my journal and a slight sunburn later, I made it back to my car around 5:30 PM.

Barton Creek Greenbelt :: Spring 2015

Barton Creek Greenbelt :: Spring 2015

In hopes of best sharing the atmosphere and the energy of the day, here is an excerpt from my journal:

March 28, 2015

Words of influence for the day: happiness, positivity, optimism, hope, give, light & love.

Barton Creek Greenbelt :: Spring 2015

Barton Creek Greenbelt :: Spring 2015

I made a trip to the greenbelt alone today. Its absolutely incredible. the weather is ideal– 70’s, sunshine and not a cloud in this deep blue Texas sky. I’m sitting on the cusp of Sculpture Falls, soaking up the sun, the vibrant energy of other greenbelt patrons, and of course, the natural beauty of this stellar treasure.

Barton Creek Greenbelt :: Spring 2015

Barton Creek Greenbelt :: Spring 2015

Everyone you encounter shares a warm smile, a mutual understanding that out here, we are all disconnected from the daily bustle of the city. In that respect, and in many others, the greenbelt is such a friendly space. Its a natural haven of beauty. Its a place to slow down. To reset. To escape the stress, worries and constant go-factor of every other day.

Barton Creek Greenbelt :: Spring 2015

Barton Creek Greenbelt :: Spring 2015

As I sit listening to the crystal waters rushing over the falls, I too reset. I thank God for the sheer beauty of His creation and for the opportunity to live here, in such an amazing city where I can retreat into nature within a matter of minutes.

Barton Creek Greenbelt :: Spring 2015

Barton Creek Greenbelt :: Spring 2015

Today I ask myself: what can I do to become a better person? What can I do to enrich others’ lives? What can I do to make tomorrow better?

Give thanks. Give hope. Give positivity. Give love.

The feelings brought on by this natural oasis almost bring me to tears. Its an incredible, calming inner-peace.

Barton Creek Greenbelt :: Spring 2015

Barton Creek Greenbelt :: Spring 2015

I feel like I could spend days here– listening, observing, appreciating.

Life is good most days, but today its nothing short of wonderful.

{end excerpt}

Barton Creek Greenbelt :: Spring 2015

Barton Creek Greenbelt :: Spring 2015

If you haven’t hit the trails yet this year Austinites, get out there! And if you’re just visiting or new to the area, I would be happy to give you some direction on where to go. Just give me a shout!

Until next time,

Hope

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Market Update: Let’s talk numbers!

Real Estate and Lifestyle

While January proved to be a strong start to the new year, the real estate market has since gained momentum at a lightning fast speed! In the last seven days, I’ve written four offers– three of which were in multiple offer situations, and we are only entering the busy season.

shutterstock_83600203

It’s a good thing I don’t mind living, breathing and sleeping real estate, because I’ve literally been dreaming of client meetings and winning out crazy multiple-offer bids whilst jaunting around town making dreams come true by slingin’ real estate!

We are still waiting on the full analysis of February’s numbers from the Austin Board of Realtors, but January looked a little something like this:

Jan15_2

  • 1,547- single-family homes sold
  • $240k- median price for single-family homes
  • $310k- the average price for single-family homes
  • $480 million- total dollar volume of single-family properties sold, up 27% from January of 2014 (WOW!)shutterstock_130101671

With job & population growth still on the rise, it is a very exciting time for buyers to be investing in Austin real estate!

Until next time, I’ll be running around like a crazy person trying to accommodate all of my buyers and maybe fitting in some SXSW fun too!

XO,

Hope

View from the Top

Lifestyle
Austin at its finest. Mount Bonnell : 02/17/15

Austin at its finest. Mount Bonnell : 02/17/15

Anyone and everyone living in this great city knows of Mount Bonnell and has most likely visited at least once. If you are in that tiny percentage of people who haven’t gone, add it to your bucket list now! Arguably, there is no better all-encompassing vantage point in Austin than this amazing vista.

Mount Bonnell : 02/17/15

Mount Bonnell : 02/17/15

Just a short hike up the limestone steps, you will find incomparable views of Lake Austin, the surrounding hills and downtown.

MB (2 of 2)

It is centrally located, and the hike up takes only a few minutes, so you can plan lots of other fun Austin adventures around it.

Close up of Austin's iconic Penny Backer Bridge from Mount Bonnell.

Close up of Austin’s iconic Penny Backer Bridge from Mount Bonnell.

I made my first visit right after moving to Austin in 2006, and I’ve made the climb many times since. I am still amazed at the sheer beauty of this historical landmark every single time. It’s simply breathtaking!

Most recent Mount Bonnell visit : 02/17/15

Most recent Mount Bonnell visit : 02/17/15

As the highest point within the Austin city limits, the panoramic views are nothing short of incredible. Here are a couple of shots from yesterday afternoon– two of the downtown skyline (obviously much better in person) and one looking in the opposite direction out over Lake Austin and the Hill Country.

Downtown Austin Skyline : 02/17/15

Downtown Austin Skyline : 02/17/15

Downtown Austin Skyline : 02/17/15

Downtown Austin Skyline : 02/17/15

Mount Bonnell : 02/17/15

Mount Bonnell : 02/17/15

Enjoy my friends!

xo,

Hope

Attention Dog Lovers!

Lifestyle

To all of my dog-loving friends, this one is for you!

Yet another great aspect of this wonderful city is the general population’s pet-friendly attitude. There are a multitude of different types of venues, including restaurants, bars, parks, hotels and more that will welcome you and your pet with open arms. In fact, many of them further accommodate to offer water bowls and doggie treats!

I personally do not have a dog (yet), but while my parents were out of the country over the summer, our family dog came to stay with me for a few weeks. Willie Rooter is a 10 year old Dachshund who is convinced he is a person. He also happens to be one of my best friends. He looks extra dapper in this photo I took a few summers ago at our old house.

William Rooter Teel, friend, licker & lover of all things related to treats and snoozing.

William Rooter Teel, friend, licker & lover of all things related to treats and snoozing.

While he was visiting, I took him with me whenever and wherever I could. He made his first trip into Pet Smart on the first day, and of course, he got nervous and pooped right there in the floor while a little girl was trying to pet him. Haha

Willie Rooter and I at Double Daves Pizza summer 2014.

Willie Rooter and I at Double Daves Pizza summer 2014.

We also made it to Bouldin Creek Cafe, Double Daves, a few parks and some other places. He was truly a little dog in the big city over those two weeks, and we had fun!

Austin Culture Map has a great link to the top 10 most dog-friendly hangouts in Austin, but there are many, many more!

In addition to dog-friendly spots to visit, Austin Fit Magazine also hold an annual Fittest Dog Contest. This year I had the opportunity to photograph my beautiful roommate, Kate, and her awesome dog, Leon, for Leon’s submission into the contest.

Kate and Leon sprinting across the park near Townlake.

Kate and Leon sprinting across the park near Townlake.

Kate submitted Leon’s entry with this great description:

Leon enjoys his 4 mile runs around town lake and pushes his companion to the very end with his galloping pace of 8 minute miles (that’s tough for a 90Ib big guy!). After his run, he enjoys racing with sprints along the open green and a few hill climbs by Auditorium Shores. He’s a one of a kind out on town lake getting his fit on! Leon also will play tug of war to the death, if you’re up for the challenge. Dogos were bred in Argentina over a 25 year span for the specific purpose of pig hunting, oh and also for saving little children from mountain lions. Can your dog beat up a mountain lion? Takes an athlete for that fight. Leon’s upcoming workouts include pulling a weighted tire to work on sculpting his chest. Who needs a gym, just be like Leon and go Rocky style.

Leon. Enough said!

Leon. Enough said!

Look at that handsome boy go!! We can’t wait to find out if he wins!!

Take a look at the AFM Fittest Dog 2014 winners here— you won’t be disappointed at this overload of doggie-cuteness!!!

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Until next time my friends,

H

ATX Love: Rain or Shine + Kindness

Lifestyle

I promise weather won’t be the only topic covered in 2015, but for today’s blog I do have a few comments. As discussed previously, we Austinites love the sunshine and clear blue skies. After just a few rainy days, we can begin to get a bit cranky. I know you Seattleites (namely my sister, Kels) would tell us to quit being a bunch of babies, but hey, who doesn’t love the warm feel of golden sunshine on a crisp chilly day?

The last several days have been rain, shine, rain, shine, rain shine. My friend Stephanie came in for the weekend, but we didn’t let the rain get us down! In fact, Steph, Kate and I went for a drizzly hike on the greenbelt early Saturday morning!

On the greenbelt last Saturday. No joke, this dude ate it right after kayaking over these falls. I did get to send him a few good photos though, and he loved them!

On the greenbelt last Saturday. No joke, this dude ate it right after kayaking over these falls. I did get to send him a few good photos though, and he loved them!

Despite the misty rain, it was a fantastic hike. The drizzle kept many of the regular patrons home, and there was soo much water–more than I’ve even seen on the Twin Falls trail! It was as beautiful and invigorating as ever.

Later that day Steph and I stopped at HEB to grab a few things. As I was coming around with the umbrella, I see that the Jeep Commander next to us has a window down. I say to Steph, “Oh no, look at the window down on that Jeep. That sucks!”

“Do you want to do something really nice for them?” Steph replies.

“Umm yep!! Sure do!”

So, we got some newspaper out of her trunk and put it over their window to keep the rain out. Fast forward. We get back to the car to find this note on the windshield. What a great feeling!

People are awesome!!

People are awesome!!

This morning I woke up thinking, “Great, yet another rainy day!” But if you know me whatsoever, you know I am all about keeping it positive no matter what. I also believe that it is important to begin your morning with positive, happy thoughts in order to set the tone for the day. It may sound cheesy, but believe me people, it works!

Rain-me_pp

Taking rainy day selfies this afternoon!

So how can I put a positive spin on this rain today? Almost immediately I became excited thinking about this adorable umbrella which was a gift from my gracious team leader, Camille. How cute is this?!

Yes, I am a dork who took a photo of their adorable umbrella.

Yes, I am a dork who took a photo of their cuteee umbrella.

As we don’t normally get too much rain down here in Austin, Texas, I don’t get to pull out an umbrella very often! I just love this one though!! And so today, I found another way to be excited about the rain. 🙂

Nonetheless, here’s to hoping for sunshine tomorrow…

Taken last week from the Townlake trail.

Taken last week from the Townlake trail. 

Until next time,

Hope

Your Austin Area Market Update

Real Estate

The year has begun with a bang here in Austin, setting the pace for what economists predict will be another great year in real estate, and Your Austin Area Home Team is excited!

FrostTower

Austin’s Iconic Frost Tower

Despite December’s holiday-bustle factor, homes sales remained strong last month, setting the record for an all-time-high with almost 2,300 home sales and a median sales price of $246,530 for the Austin metro-area. That momentum carried us into a robust January, and there is no end in sight. I was literally negotiating on a multiple offer situation while at a wedding on New Year’s Eve! We submitted a clean, strong offer, won the bid and executed on New Year’s Day.Yes, I am dedicated to my clients no matter what is going on, but talk about a great way to start the New Year!

View of the Capitol down Congress Avenue

View of the Capitol down Congress Avenue

In a nutshell, 2014 looked a little something like this: Around 66,000 people moved into Austin, and over 39,000 jobs were added to the economy. Our strongest economic drivers were (and still are) population growth, technology and enterprise, the education and health sectors, and of course, the value added from our world famous festivals. SXSW, ACL, Fun Fun Fun Fest & F1 + many, many others contributed over $1.4 billion to Austin’s economy over the last two years alone. Collectively, these factors made 2014 a great year for Austin Real Estate. Check out the year’s stats in the graphic below.

Austin Area Market Stats for 2014

Austin Area Market Stats for 2014

Local economists are predicting that another 69,000+ jobs will be added to the economy in 2015 & 2016, and population growth will likely correlate directly. We are still facing the same housing obstacles that 2014 encountered– low inventory levels and affordability, but considering the simple supply and demand principle, 2015 will be another stellar year for the Austin real estate market.

If you know anyone thinking of buying, selling or leasing in the greater Austin area, give me a call or just send them my way! Always happy to help!

Happy Thursday!

Hope

Brew + Brew

Lifestyle

Let’s talk two of my favorites today: good, strong coffee and great craft beer. Luckily, we have many wonderful options here in Austin for either– and I’m not talking your run of the mill chains like Starbucks or Third Base Sports Bar. While I’m not knocking those establishments whatsoever, I would much rather support local businesses while soaking up their weird Austin vibes and funky fresh atmospheres.

Inside of Whip In

Inside of Whip In

Whip In is another one of those unique, Austin-y places whose relaxed atmosphere reminds me of why I love this city so much. Originally a convenience store, located right off of I-35, they are now an eccentric little bar with a full menu, wine bar, small market and 72 beers on tap! They also host live music, and they have a great little patio outside. Check out their website here. This place is seriously cool, and definitely a hidden gem of Austin.

Whip In selfie!

Whip In selfie!

As far as coffee goes, I have many favorite spots. Brew & Brew, Thunderbird Coffee and Bouldin Creek are among my top picks, but when it is as sunny and beautiful outside as it has been today, Mozarts is a no-brainer!

Mozarts on Lake Austin

Mozarts on Lake Austin

I began frequenting Mozarts as a freshman at UT. My friends and I would pile into a car, trek it down to the lakeside and have major study sessions while sipping on espresso and taking in the views. What better way to study, right?!

Mozarts outdoor area shot this morning.

Mozarts outdoor area shot this morning.

I met a fellow agent for coffee at Mozarts this morning, and we soaked up the crisp, fresh air as we exchanged ideas for growing our businesses while sitting right at the water’s edge. The lake was just stunning as the clear blue skies reflected off of the calm water. What a way to begin this wonderful Tuesday!

Lake Austin

Lake Austin

As I know you can all see, I love this incredible city SO very much, and I am honored to be able to share it with all of you!

Stay tuned for a market update later this week! Happy Tuesday!

xo,

Hope

Sunshiny Dreams of Austin Treasures in the Happy New Year

Lifestyle

The forecast has been teasing us here in Austin since the end of last week, promising sunny days and warmer temps, but not delivering. This glimmering hope of sunshine and 50 degree temperatures seemed to taunt me as I showed 30+ houses to clients over the course of three days. The good news? Yes, we found them a wonderful new home, and we are officially under contract! The bad news? Its cold and rainy, and we Austinites miss the sunshine! No complaints, but warmth and the typical bright blue skies are intertwined among the reasons we choose to live in Texas, right?

SUNSHINE! This is something Austinites love as our beautiful city has so much to offer in the way of outdoor activities. I could never tire of kayaking/paddle-boarding on Lady Bird Lake while enjoying the downtown skyline, hiking and exploring the many greenbelt trails, diving into our numerous (and spectacular) swimming holes or enjoying an evening on a patio with cold drinks and great friends.

I know, I know, just the thought of it all has me longing for summer already, so I’ll stop! There are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors during the winter months here in Austin, as long as its not raining!

One of this city’s greatest treasures is its expansive greenbelt trail system. Take it from me, your hiking/biking routines don’t have to come to a halt just because the weather is a bit cooler. It is still a fantastic way to get out of the house, get your blood flowing and reconnect with dear old Mother Nature.

Barton Creek Greenbelt, shot in January of 2014.

Barton Creek Greenbelt, taken on one of my winter hikes, shot in January of 2014.

Yes, winter visits offer a completely different experience than summer, but the sights are equally as beautiful. Not to mention, it is absolutely fascinating to be able to experience the exact same place in two very different visual existences.

Time lapse photo I shot on a hike last January at Twin Falls.

Time lapse photo I shot on a hike last January at Twin Falls.

Although protected greenbelts stretch throughout all of Austin and the surrounding Central Texas areas, the Barton Creek Greenbelt serves as a centrally located natural oasis, just minutes from the city’s urban core.

Taken on one of my winter hikes in January of this year from the Twin Falls access point of the Barton Creek Greenbelt.

Taken on one of my winter hikes in January of this year from the Twin Falls access point of the Barton Creek Greenbelt.

See? We really do have the best of both worlds here as Austin boasts a city lifestyle with abounding, convenient opportunities for enjoying the rugged outdoors. So bundle up this weekend and check out the Barton Creek Greenbelt access point map for the trail nearest you.

A few quick tips though… if you are unfamiliar with the trail, either map your hike with GPS or carry a map. Also, be careful during the winter months that the sun doesn’t set while you’re miles into the trail. My dear friend Stephanie and I learned these lessons the hard way!

On one occasion, Steph and I took a wrong turn on the way back and ended up quite a ways from our trail head. The sun started setting FAST, and our phone batteries were dwindling.  We laugh about it now, but at the time, we panicked!  We stopped, checked the GPS map of our hike and realized we were not even close to our trail. In fact, it was about a fifty foot vertical climb up, right above us.

So, panic mode fully engaged, we turn around and start sprinting in the other direction, terrified at the thought of being lost in the cold for the night. Don’t get me wrong, we love the outdoors, but we were by no means prepared to “rough it” all night.

After backtracking about a mile or so, we hear voices up above us.

“Hello?! Can you help us?” we call out from below.  It was pretty much dark at this point, and we were certain they would be the last voices we heard on the trail that day. They called back down to us so we scurried up the hillside, got back on track and to the car before long. Needless to say, we are now more careful, and you should be too! I doubt there are any big bad wolves out there waiting for ya, but do you really want to spend the night lost in the cold?

Anyway, I plan to hit some of my favorite trails as soon as we get some sunshine, and you should too!

And quickly, before I go, here’s a quick look at what you can expect in the blog in the coming weeks! More market updates, my 2015 Austin bucket list, SXSW announcements + tons more on Austin treasures!

Happy living and loving amigos,

H

More Holiday Shenanigans + A Taste of Austin

Lifestyle

I don’t know about you guys, but I am starting to feel like time is flying even faster now that the holidays are here! Your Austin Area Home Team is keeping very busy with both new and current clients, and it is wonderful to bring happy buyers and sellers together during this time of the year– its like piling more happiness and excitement on top of their holiday cheer!

Lot’s of fun things are happening here, and as promised, I have more funnies to share with you. So let’s go back a week or so to the post-Thanksgiving weekend. Friday and Saturday were full of adventures! My friend Claire and I made a special trip to Dallas to get our hair done by the most amazing hair-dresser ever, Chad Rogers, at Jean Philipe.

Chad, Claire & I at the salon.

Chad, Claire & I at the salon.

Chad is a genius. I literally go in and say do whatever you want, I know it will be fantastic! And, ta-da! Here is the finished product from our visit!

Claire, Stephanie & I at The Bottle Shop off Greenville in Dallas.

Claire, Stephanie & I at The Bottle Shop off of Greenville in Dallas.

We then ventured back down to our hometown to watch my dad’s band play a gig out at the lake- so much fun! It was wonderful to be able to spend time with my good friends from home, and I am so thankful for their grace and presence in my life.

Fast-forward to Saturday afternoon. My mom, dad and I decide to go to the local Christmas tree lot to buy a real tree. In the past, we had “Christmas Tree Wars” with my Uncle Ronnie and Aunt Cackie to see who would have the tallest tree each season, but its been many years since a beautiful evergreen graced our home with smell of Christmas. And just FYI, the tallest tree we ever had was about 18 feet tall (a monster), but Cackie and Ronnie still won the overall contest!

Needless to say, our once well-honed Christmas tree wrangling skills were a bit rusty. So, we pull up to the tree lot in my dad’s jeep with a tarp, a rope and a plan to tie that thing to the top of the car. We pick out a lovely, yummy smelling tree, hoist it upward and tie it up tight.

Sounds fool proof, right?

Its not. Unfortunately, all of the passenger doors were tied shut. As we sat there scratching our heads, the only viable solution seemed to be to climb through the windows so we closed mom in the back, and dad and I wiggled into to the front seats.

The severity of the situation quickly escalated as we realized we had more stops to make. It went a little something like this: stop one– climb out of the windows to open back door for mom to get out. Climb up to the front to roll up windows. Climb out. Shop. Climb back in to roll down the windows. Climb out. Close mom inside. Wiggle back in through the window. Stop two– Home Depot. Climb out of the window.  Watch as people point and laugh. Let mom out. Climb in to roll up windows. Climb out. Shop. Climb in to roll down windows again. Climb back out. Close mom inside. Wiggle back in through the windows. Watch more people point and laugh. Whew! I would have pointed and laughed too, but hey, it makes for a good story!

Unfortunately, I do not have any photos or videos of these shenanigans, but next time I will certainly be prepared.

Among all of the holiday craziness + working long hours, I still take time to enjoy all that my amazing city has to offer! Last week, I had a lunch date with a fellow Realtor at one of my favorite Austin-y spots, Bouldin Creek Cafe. While I was still in school, this little coffee shop/delicious cafe, was in my regular study rotation (my other mainstay was Thunderbird Coffee). Bouldin Creek has great coffee, a nice beer selection, incredible, organic, healthy food, a monthly rotating art show and an atmosphere that is the epitome of Austin.

Bouldin Creek Cafe bar area.

Bouldin Creek Cafe bar area.

Located on the corner of South First and Mary, they also have a fabulous patio complete with doggie treats and water bowls for your pups! It is technically a vegetarian/vegan restaurant, but don’t let that scare you away. Many of their ingredients are local, everything is made from scratch, their menu is diverse, and their inexpensive pricing is a big plus, too! Especially if you hit their happy hour.

Bouldin Creek Cafe (3 of 5)

Bouldin Creek Cafe Happy Hour Specials

I went for the Inner Sun Omelet this time. Oh. My. Goodness. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! Basil, diced tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and feta and cheddar jack cheeses complete with a side of locally grown, sliced tomatoes and homemade sourdough toast.

The Inner Sun Omelet

The Inner Sun Omelet

With this huge portion, I definitely had this for both lunch and dinner, and for under ten bucks, too! Make some time for a visit to Bouldin Creek Cafe this week or next time you visit if you are an out-of-towner. You can thank me later!

Until next time my friends,

Hope

Thanksgiving Reflections and a Bunch of Turkeys

Lifestyle

Back at the beginning of the year I challenged myself to wake up each day with an attitude of gratitude. After about a week or so, it was no longer a challenge. Rather, it became a habit. Every morning I take just a few moments, whether its over morning coffee or on the way to work, to thank our gracious Lord for the countless blessings He has bestowed on me.

This, my friends, has become a blessing in and of itself. My days are even better than before, and often, I just become so overjoyed by life that I smile to myself as I think about random things I am thankful for, like the beauty of this great city, my amazing family, or even a good song on the radio!

During the Thanksgiving holiday, I was feeling extra thankful, as many of us do.  As I recount some of the funnier moments of my Thanksgiving holiday, I’ll touch briefly on some of things I am most thankful for in my life.

This year, Thanksgiving was quite different than in years of the past. First of all, we spent our first Thanksgiving ever away from my darling little sister, Kelsey. This was not easy, but thanks to technology, we FaceTimed for hours! Literally. And, thanks to our wonderful great-grannie, we will be seeing her this coming weekend for our family Christmas Retreat! I am SO excited!

The second big Turkey Day difference was that it was our first holiday in my parents’ new house at the lake. Embracing new traditions, we hosted dinner for family and friends, and we had some serious fun!

And finally, for some reason, everyone thought it would be a good idea to put my mom and I in charge of making the turkey AND the dressing. I was unaware of this until the morning of when my mom came up to the bunk room, got into bed with me and said, “Well, we better find a good recipe for a turkey!”

Ummmm….. what?!

So, we get up and make our way downstairs into the kitchen. First up, we put the dressing together. Luckily, we had a very detailed recipe from my Aunt Robin who happens to make delicious dressing. We get the dressing put together by about 10:30 or so, and my mom says she thinks we have some time before we have to prepare the turkey and put it in the oven.

But no. Just no. Turkeys need like 3-4 hours to cook! Luckily, I decided to check a recipe before we took a break from the kitchen. So mom and I start freaking out, literally running around the kitchen like little turkey-cooking virgins. We did get some advice: cook it in a brown paper bag; wrap it tight in a ton of foil, etc., but again, no. It was too late for all that as we were fresh out of paper bags and foil.

Ok. So we just start following a random recipe. Well, we don’t have any of the right ingredients! It called for an orange and a lemon. We used a grapefruit and a lime. It called for a ton of thyme, but again, fresh out. This saga goes on until we are like ok, this HAS to go in the oven ASAP! It still doesn’t look that great though, so I suggest that we rub a bunch of ranch seasoning mix on it. Ranch rubbed, turkey in the oven, lets go– even if this may be worse than the dry, crunchy Turkey in Christmas Vacation.

By some miracle of God, it turned out to be FANTASTIC! The best turkey I’ve ever had, no joke!

Thanksgiving Turkeys 2014

Thanksgiving Turkeys 2014

I call this next one Three Turkeys because of my goofy little brother’s photo bomb. Haha!

Three Turkeys

Three Turkeys

Overall, Thanksgiving dinner was a huge success! After dinner, my dad and our friend Mike lit up a fire in the  fire-pit near the shore. We roasted some monster marshmallows and pulled out some sparklers for the kids. They absolutely loved it, and the adults had fun too!

My little cousin Brooklyn with a sparkler!

My little cousin Brooklyn with a sparkler!

Kaylee holding a sparkler out.

Kaylee holding a sparkler.

It was so wonderful to spend time with family last week. Out of everything in my life, they are what I am most thankful for every single day. My mom, dad, sister and brother are my best friends, and I can’t thank them enough for all of the love, laughs and support that they so selflessly give every single day. I tear up, overwhelmed, at the thought of it.

My Thanksgiving holiday shenanigans continued throughout the weekend, and the stories just keep getting funnier! BUT, you’ll have to stay tuned for more later this week!

Happy living and loving!

XO,

Hope